Cory’s Corner: The NFL must develop better quarterbacks

The Thursday night train wreck highlighted just how important the quarterback position is in the NFL.

It also was a quick lesson in the education and maturation of today’s NFL quarterback.

We all saw that Christian Ponder is not as good as Teddy Bridgewater, who was the 32nd overall selection of the 2014 draft. But let’s not forget that the Vikings reached with the 12th overall pick of the 2011 draft to get Ponder just because they couldn’t find a trade partner.

On the other hand, the Packers waited patiently as Aaron Rodgers was able to fall in their lap. He was the first pick of the Packers in 2005 when Green Bay currently had a Hall of Famer on the roster.

And after Rodgers had a chance to ingest all the intricacies about being a pro quarterback from the bench for three years, he was more than ready to become the focal point of the offense.

But the quarterback drought isn’t just happening in Minnesota. The passer blight is clear all over the league. For every Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson and Rodgers — who have a combined four picks this year — there’s Geno Smith, Jake Locker, Blake Bortles and Derek Carr. Those four guys have a combined 17 interceptions.

Smith has started 20 games and owns a 9-11 record. The mediocre decision maker is also a whisper away from losing his starting job to Michael Vick. Locker has started 21 games and owns a 9-12 career record for the nothing-special Titans. Bortles started his first game last week in a blowout loss at San Diego but appears overmatched and Carr was in a losing battle the moment the worst-run team in the NFL drafted him.

All four of those young quarterbacks entered the league with high expectations. They left college with lofty goals, but once they got to the NFL they were never given enough time to let the game slow down and comprehend it.

The league is so reliant on quarterbacks that it needs to take the position more seriously. Now more than ever, the league needs to take steps to ensure that the future of the game is fully stocked with suitable signal callers.

And how do you make that happen?

You mandate that rookie quarterbacks sit at least 10 games. Let them figure out how fast cornerbacks are at the next level, let them decipher tape by predicting what the defense will do next and let them be so game-ready that teammates expect nothing but wins.

Now, teams throw young quarterbacks into the starting lineup either to energize the fan base and put fannies in the seats or use to it as motivation for the veteran quarterback.

David Carr is the poster child for developing quarterbacks better. He was sacked 262 times as a starting quarterback.
David Carr is the poster child for developing quarterbacks better. He was sacked 262 times as a starting quarterback.

What good does it do if a young quarterback’s confidence is shredded before he is able to show off his skills? The prime example of this is Carr’s brother David. He was the No. 1 overall pick in 2002 and was called on to save a beleaguered franchise.

Well, that never happened as he got hit more than a piñata. He was sacked a league-high 76 times his rookie year and never fully recovered. He went 22-53 in five years in Houston followed by a 1-3 stint in Carolina to close out his career as a starting quarterback.

With the limitations the NFL has placed on defenses for not being able to touch receivers or quarterbacks, the pro passing game has never had as many chances to succeed as it does right now. Yet, of all 32 teams in the league there are only 17 teams with an above average quarterback. That’s a pretty sad number, especially since Luck and Wilson are the most recent draft picks that have shown long-term capable success in this league.

If the NFL doesn’t start implementing a plan to develop quarterbacks better, Thursday Night Football will turn into Must Miss TV with losing teams getting outscored 205-60 this season.


Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn


18 thoughts on “Cory’s Corner: The NFL must develop better quarterbacks

  1. “Yet, of all 32 teams in the league there are only 17 teams with an above average quarterback.”

    That would mean that there are approximately the same number (actually more) of above average passers than below average. No offense, but I think that’s statistically what average means.

    1. yea if you assume qb talent follows a bell curve, it’d be silly to expect anything except the existing outcome.

  2. There have to be some loser teams in the NFL in order for there to be some real winners. I’m not complaining about the lack of QB at all.

    And furthermore, you don’t need a franchise quarterback as long as you have a good run game. Mark Sanchez is a good example of someone where if you have a great run game, then he will put up respectable numbers for you. Without the run, he’s a back-up at best.

    Alex Smith’s career turned around when Jim Harbaugh came to town because he implemented a respectable run game. Nick Foles career has turned down notch without one. The Drew Brees threw a league leading 2 picks in 2010 because he lost all his RB’s.

    You find examples everywhere.

    The problem isn’t developing the quarterbacks, if anything they’re more prepared than ever before: they train like NFL QB’s in college a lot more than they used to, the NFL rules favor the offense, there are more explosive TE’s and WR’s than ever before and so on.

    Aaron Rodgers himself said that rookie QB’s are lot more prepared these days than when he was drafted. He’s right.

    I think this article kind of misses the point.

  3. There’s enough blame/reason to go around for the failing of most 1st rd drafted QB’s and why some later drafted QB’s who are better get lost

    1) Overrating…It’s my contention that any ten year span,regardless of the dates start and end,there are only 5 QB’s that stand alone and the rest are residents of a olio…a variety show of bad acts.

    2)Need Drafting….Every team has needs yearly and yet the one position that shouldn’t be drafted based on need is the QB position.Doing so likely has it resembling ‘he who shoots a gun and misses the barn’ because your sights were and are still out of whack.If you’re not taking the time to find the guy,then you’ll be taking a guy all the time.

    3)False Prophets….When I look back at my #1,how is it possible to have multiple Messiahs arriving the same year…they make it seem like its 1983 every year,the only year where that may be deemed as true.

    4)Head Coaches….Because of the first three above,this position also becomes a revolving door filled with the new guy who wants his own new toy which compounds the problem for those teams that cannot get off the doormat and step through the doors of success.The merry-go-round where either the QB or HC is tossed aside because of the out of control spin.

    5) Athletic Ability vs Position Ability…This is for me the biggest problem when assessing a new QB coming into the draft.We have become to obsessed with getting out of the pocket than instilling winning the pocket.The first will wane quickly while the other strives in longevity.

    Each of these can be delved into deeper but I’m not a writer who can keep readers engrossed in theory…in fact.I find it hard to garner the energy to even try. 🙂

  4. I wonder how Teddy Bridgewater would perform against Packers. Because he played only one (ONE) game against maybe worst defense in whole NFL (Atlanta Falcons!) and he threw 317 yards, but, basically without any pressure and he threw no TDs. All Vikings TDs was rushing. So, talking about Ponder (who was terrible against Packers, as usual) and comparing him to Teddy Bridgewater, based on just one game – no way. Let see how he will play against Detroit. That will be interesting and more informative about his readiness to play NFL than the game aginst Falcons. Vikings won that game because Falcons were playing with 2 TE performing for missing OL personel. Actually, they were without OL. So, lets wait one more game before we start to glorify Teddy Bridgewater…

  5. I’m not buying this at all. First of all, I think the QB play is actually pretty good, and it is actually a lot better than it has been at various times in the past. But my bigger point is this: I see absolutely no firm evidence whatsoever that letting a guy sit for a while will make him better. I do see evidence that a lot of guys are pretty good even when they don’t sit for a while.

    Peyton Manning was thrown into the fire from the first snap, and sucked. He threw 26 TDs and 28 INTs and had a passer rating of 71. But he’s been pretty good since then, no?

    Drew Brees sat out his first year. Then he started and sucked in his second year, sucked even worse in this third year, and has been one of the best QBs in the league since then.

    Russell Wilson started from the first snap. If the league had mandated that he sit out his first year, the league would have lost a guy with a passer rating of 100. Same way with Roethlisberger, whose first year rating was 98. Robert Griffin had 102 rating in his first year, and then went DOWN by 20 points after that.

    Cam Newton played from the first snap and had a passer rating in the mid-80s. It’s been in the mid-80s ever since. Matt Ryan played from the beginning and had an 88 rating. In the 5 seasons after that his career average has SKYROCKETED to … um… 90.

    Andrew Luck started from the beginning. He passer rating has never been great, and yet his presence on the field is the single biggest factor that turned a 2-14 team in 2011 to an 11-5 playoff team in 2012 and 2013.

    I’m not seeing how any of this argues that QBs should be forced to sit…

  6. Cory your stories used to be good now there just stupid. If everybody had a franchise qb the league wouldnt be fun to watch and sitting out qbs isnt going to help a probelm that dosent need to be fixed

  7. I’m not into mandating anything. If you can play you can play. Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck could play right away and they both took their teams to the playoffs. Now had they been mandated by you to sit the bench for the first 10 games than Seattle doesn’t even make the playoffs his rookie year. If you are going to “mandate” rookie qb’s why not just mandate all rookies?

    I get what your are saying but it basically puts limitations on teams especially ones trying to win right away and need a qb. I think since they are paying him as their employee that they should have the right to determine if he’s ready to start or not as a rookie, not some guy in a suit who thinks he knows better.

    Matt Flynn has been sitting the bench for 7 years “learning” and yet he still has not gotten much better than his rookie year. To me this sitting and learning theory is b.s.. There’s only a few elite qb’s in this league (Rodgers, Manning, Brady, Luck, Wilson, and Brees). These guys would have succeeded either way. Of course these are the kind of qb’s that every team wants. I highly doubt you are suddenly going to produce more of these simply by mandating they sit for the first 10 games.

    David Carr, Christian Ponder, Akili Smith, Vince Young, Ryan Leaf, Blaine Gabbert, Rich Campbell etc. There’s been a million of them thru the years and it still comes down to talent and hard work. These guys could have sat the pine for three straight years like Rodgers was forced too and I think they would have turned out exactly as they are. They would just suck and be three years older.

  8. The NFL is the only league so tightly regulated to make everybody 8-8 that I don’t think regulating rookie QB’s playing time will make them better.
    If a team stinks, they will continue to stink, even after 10 weeks of a QB sitting. Let’s say Derek Carr sits the first 10 games and then starts in week 11. The Raiders will still stink then, just as they do now and Carr will start his growing pains later.
    One size does not fit all…each team’s needs and situations are different. Some QBs are just naturally ready (Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson) and others are not. If anything, the David Carr example is moreso about having the right supporting cast in place before bringing in a QB. Sure, Luck and Wilson were very good right away, but they also have great supporting casts around them to ensure success.

    Despite the NFL’s best efforts, when it comes to drafting, you can’t fix stupid. Some teams (i.e. the Raiders, Jaguars, Titans, etc.) will continue to reach for QBs and draft badly. Until new team management brings about a change, the NFL should not be making mandates to micro-manage team decisions like these.

  9. You would “mandate”, Cory, really? That’s wrong on so many levels. But it’s very good advice. Winners will adhere to the idea (of giving QB’s a chance to develop), and losers will not. That’s why we have winners and losers.

    1. BR, I am glad you specified QBs. I would have to plead guilty to wanting to see Pennel and Janis on the field (not Elliott so much since I don’t think GB needs help right now at OLB). One could argue that Pennel and Janis would eventually become better players if they are withheld from the field until they learn all of the nuances being taught by their coaches. Hmmm, maybe I will give that some thought.

  10. The modern rules have made QB play the most important thing, too important in my opinion. If there aren’t enough decent QBs, I highly doubt sitting a rookie QB for 10 weeks is the answer. The only answer I can think of is to change back all or many of the rules that help WRs. I am okay with the rules that tend to protect the QBs health.

  11. Cristian Ponder is a product of the knee jerk reaction that Vikings GM Rick Spielman experienced when he saw his NFC North competitors line up of franchise QB’s Rodgers, Stafford, Cutler. It was clear from the start that Ponder wasn’t worthy of a 1st round pick but Spielman had a brain fart and pissed away a prime draft slot for a player he could have had in the 2nd or 3rd round. In a similar instance Jets former gm Mike Tannenbaum and coach Rex Ryan traded down for sub par talent Mark Sanchez, That bone headed move eventually cost Tannenbaum his job and Rex Ryan could be close to follow. Tim Tebow in the first round? What was that silly kid Josh Mcdaniels thinking. Why did Denver owner Pat Boland give him the coach and gm slot in the first place. Cory I think your heart is in the right place but the problem is Incompetent management bad coaching and delusional owners!

  12. I don’t think you can apply a 1-size-fits-all formula for qb development. some guys excel in different situations. if you believe a guy has what it takes to win right off the bat, there is no sense in sitting him. what if your team’s roster is constructed in such a way that the team’s window of contention is only 3-4 yrs before salary cap and low draft position catches up? why throw away one of those few chances? besides, for some things, there just is no substitute for experience (ie. live game snaps). classroom time doesn’t solve everything. heck sometimes you learn better when alternating hands-on and classroom training.

    if average league scoring keeps rising, it should be expected that we see more games that would traditionally be considered blowouts. a 42-10 victory is the same % margin as a 14-3 victory, yet one is a 2-possession game and the other is a 4-possession game. what if today’s 35-14 game is analogous to yesteryear’s 17-7 game?

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